October 18, 2011
Here are some of my thoughts and observations following Miami's 30-24 win over North Carolina on Saturday:
- Jacory Harris is much improved from a year ago and has played arguably his best football as a Hurricane in the last two games. He is leading an efficient passing game, and even though there have been games in the past where he hasn't thrown interceptions, he looks more in control as in the last two games there has only even one pass (against Virginia Tech) that could even have been intercepted. I give a lot of credit to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch for helping him learn to progress in his reads, and to the coaching staff as a whole for allowing him to run, which is something he was told not to do in 2010 before Stephen Morris came on.
- Despite the win, it was dissapointing to see Miami not have very much success running the football. Although the offense obviously played well in the first half and moved the ball primarily through the air, UM needs to do a better job of establishing Lamar Miller behind what is supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in the ACC. Simply put, Lamar Miller should have more than 30 yards in a game, even with the passing game clicking in the first half.
- The defense is still not aggressive, and that's going to cost Miami at some point. There was a bit more blitzing in this game than there was against Virginia Tech, but it's unfortunate when a 29-for-37 completions-to-attempts performance by a quarterback is seen as an improvement defensively, but that's what it was. We won't really find out if the pass defense is improving this week against Georgia Tech in a traditional sense, but it will need to get better moving forward.
- The question of who would replace Matt Bosher as both kicker and punter before the year was out was one of the bigger questions there was around, and Jake Wieclaw has responded fantastically as he has yet to miss on a field goal or extra point. Dalton Botts had been doing a nice job in terms of net punt average throughout the year, but his punts lacked distance in the game against North Carolina, and now coach Al Golden has named Wieclaw as a co-starter along with Botts.
- Where would the Miami defense be without Sean Spence? Spence made 15 tackles and made what was potentially a game-saving sack on North Carolina's final drive. Spence has to be in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC, and one can hope that despite his relatively small size that yet another outstanding season at the college level will lead to a fairly high selection for him in the NFL Draft.
- Miami got some help with Georgia Tech's loss at Virginia, but it still likely needs two losses from Virginia Tech in addition to probably having to win out in the ACC, and that's not likely to happen. The Hokies' remaining ACC schedule includes games at home against Boston College and North Carolina along with road games at Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. Virginia Tech has been such a consistent program that it's tough to envision them dropping two of those games. Had UM defeated the Hokies last week, it could have put itself in the position of strong favorite to win the division with a win against Georgia Tech this week.